Monday, August 29, 2011

Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Declined 4...e3 Again?

Amazing! Today I played three blitz games. As Black I won an easy game in the King's Indian Attack after 1.d3 Nc6. As White, I got to play the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. Both games my opponents played the rare BDG Declined 4...e3 Langeheinecke Variation.

Recently I have posted blogs noting that overall this line is played about 5% of the time when White plays 4.f3. Against me the Langeheinecke has been played only 2% of the time. With this sudden popularity of 4...e3 in my games, it has surged to almost 3%. If this keeps up, I am going to actually learn some variations!

In the first game I lost to the very same opponent I recently defeated. This Sawyer-dalling, ICC 3 0, 2011 game began 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.f3 e3 5.Bxe3 (This time he chose a slightly offbeat line.) 5...b6 (Our earlier game went 5...Bf5 6.g4! Bg6 7.Nge2 +-.) 6.Bd3 Bb7 7.Qd2 e6 8.0-0-0 Bb4. Although the position is about even, I think now that it was the wrong strategy. White should play 7.Nge2 with the intention to castle kingside.

As the game actually continued, I got real interested in the possibilities and slipped into deep time trouble. Material was even, but Black's pieces were more active. Over and over again I noticed that my pieces were on the wrong squares! That shows a combination of poor strategy on my part, bad luck, and/or very good play on the part of my opponent. Sometimes you just got to say, "Yo! You played very well." Happens.

Back to the newest game given below. After 4.f3 e3 5.Bxe3 Bf5 6.g4 Bg6 7.Nge2 h5?! (The main line of the Langeheinecke is 7...e6 8.h4! h6 9.Nf4 Nc6 10.Nxg6 fxe6 11.Qd3 Ne7 12.0-0-0 and White stands better. Now back to 7...h5?!) 8.g5!? (This is not bad, but much better is 8.Nf4! [hitting the key squares h5, g6 and d5] 8...hxg4 9.Nxg6 fxg6 10.Bd3+-) 8...Nd5 9.Nxd5 Qxd5 10.Nc3!? (and again 10.Nf4 and White is better).

A key factor in the result of this blitz game was the clock. As play continued we both missed chances. After my 11th move both clocks stood at 2:35. Ten moves later I was ahead in time 2:03-1:33, a full half minute. I started to choose lines where I could play quickly and he would have to think, even if he might get the better position. He lost on time in an equal ending after my 52nd move. The final clocks were 0:47-0:00.

Sawyer-badris, ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 28.08.2011 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.f3 e3 5.Bxe3 Bf5 6.g4 Bg6 7.Nge2 h5 8.g5 Nd5 9.Nxd5 Qxd5 10.Nc3 Qa5 11.Bd3 Bxd3 12.Qxd3 g6 13.0-0 Bg7 14.Ne4 0-0 15.c3 Qf5 16.Nc5 Qxd3 17.Nxd3 b6 18.Bf4 c6 19.Be5 Nd7 20.Bxg7 Kxg7 21.f4 e6 22.Rad1 Rac8 23.Ne5 Nxe5 24.dxe5 Rfd8 25.Kf2 Kf8 26.Ke2 Ke7 27.h4 Rd5 28.c4 Rc5 29.b3 b5 30.Kd3 bxc4+ 31.bxc4 Ra5 32.Ra1 Ra3+ 33.Kc2 Rc7 34.Rfd1 Rf3 35.Rf1 Rh3 36.Rh1 Rf3 37.Raf1 Ra3 38.Kb2 Ra5 39.Rb1 Rb7+ 40.Ka1 Rb6 41.Rhd1 Ra3 42.Rxb6 axb6 43.Rd6 Rh3 44.Rxc6 Rxh4 45.Rxb6 Rxf4 46.Rb7+ Kf8 47.c5 Rc4 48.Rc7 h4 49.Kb2 h3 50.Kb3 Rc1 51.Kb2 Rc4 52.Kb3 Black forfeits on time 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Curt Jones Najdorf Sicilian Defence

Years ago I got paired against a teenage player named Curt Jones. He was an expert whose rating was rapidly rising. While we played I was at my third college; I believe Curt was in high school. Curt Jones became a USCF Life Master. His current rating is in the 2400s. Curt's father was one of the better Tennessee chess players in the 1970s.

Many chess parents would love to see their children become chess masters. In general, how does the child of a chess playing parent become good? Here are some observations:
1. Curt was polite and friendly during our five games. This speaks to excellent parenting.
2. Curt regularly played in chess events. He was given opportunity (time and money).
3. Curt's father had an extensive chess library. Knowledge and training were available.
4. Curt said he studied books from his father's library. It shows a passion to improve.
5. Curt went on to be quite active for 20 years. This implies Curt probably loved playing.

Curt Jones and I first met in a 1977 postal chess section run by the Tennessee Chess Association with seven players. We all played the other six simultaneously, three as White and three as Black. In my initial Sawyer-Jones game, I was White in a Sicilian Defence, Najdorf Variation. I played 6.Be2. Jones outplayed me and won in 25 moves.

In those years I was under the influence of the great World Champion Anatoly Karpov. I played through all 530 of David Levy's early collected games by Karpov. At his peak, Karpov could control the entire board with his pieces, taking away almost any square that his opponent's wanted to use. About 10 years ago Karpov wrote a book on Queen Pawn Openings (only in Russian?) where he mentioned me when writing on the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. As I recall, Karpov called me a Baptist minister.

I won some nice games in Karpov style vs lower rated players by placing my pieces actively and watching for a mistake. However, when I played higher rated players, they did not make many mistakes. In fact, they enjoyed MY mistakes. I found that FOR ME to BEAT higher rated players, I had to sharpen my approach. I needed to increase the RISK to increase the REWARD. This led to a multitude of glorious victories and ugly losses. Overall, my rating and chess skill improved because of my more aggressive play.

After our first game, Curt and I agreed to play a two game rated postal match in 1978. During our games, Curt Jones won the Tennessee State Championship. In our two game rated match we both won as White. He won a King's Indian Attack after 1.g3 where I copied his first six moves. I won the other game given below. We also played a couple test games in my pet gambit vs the Spanish Ruy Lopez with 3...d5!? on which I wrote an article for APCT in 1979. In those unrated games one was drawn and he won the other.

Today's game began 1.e4 ("Best by test!" - Fischer) 1...c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 (The Najdorf Variation. Black's idea is to play ...e7-e5 in one move without allowing the d6 square to become a vulnerable target. Bobby Fischer made popular six years earlier in his match vs Spassky.) 6.Bg5 (Spassky often chose this sharp line. I have had better success when I have tried to play in Spassky style. Fischer usually played 6.Bc4 here as White. Robert Byrne's 6.Be3 would be very popular 20 years later.)

After my 6.Bg5, Curt played his favorite 6...Nbd7 (He told me he had never lost in this line. Normal is 6...e6). We continued 7.Bc4 (Spassky played Bg5 and Fischer played Bc4; I get to play both!) 7...Qa5 (Pinning the Nc3 Black has a double threat of 8...Nxe4 and 8...Qxg5) 8.Qd2 (Breaking the pin and protecting the Bg5) 8...e6. The main line was 9.0-0-0 b5 10.Bb3 Bb7 11.Rhe1 0-0-0 Korchnoi-Polugaevsky, Moscow 1958.

I chose to play 9.0-0 Be7 10.Rad1 h6 11.Bh4 Ne5 12.Bb3!? (The book move was 12.Be2; I wanted to stay lined up on e6/f7.) 12...g5 13.Bg3 Nh5 14.f4! (Black's king is in the center. The way to victory is straight ahead!) 14...Nxg3 15.hxg3 Ng4 16.f5 (Attacking e6 with both the f-pawn, the Nd4 and the Bb3.) 16... 17.f6! (Keep going! The threat of fxe7 is that Bxf7+ can follow. Thus Black dares not capture on d4.) As the game progress White sacrificed the Exchange and mounted a winning attack.

Sawyer-Jones, corr TCA 1978 begins 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Bc4 Qa5 8.Qd2 e6 9.0-0 Be7 10.Rad1 h6 11.Bh4 Ne5 12.Bb3 g5 13.Bg3 Nh5 14.f4 Nxg3 15.hxg3 Ng4 16.f5 e5 17.f6 Bf8 [17...Bd8] 18.Nf5 Qc5+ 19.Kh1 Bxf5 20.Rxf5 Ne3? [20...h5 21.Qxg5+/=] 21.Rxe5+ Qxe5 22.Qxe3 Qxf6 23.Nd5 Qg6 24.Rd3 Bg7 25.Nc7+ Ke7 26.Nxa8 Rxa8 27.Qb6 Rd8 28.Ba4 Be5? [28...Qh5+ 29.Kg1+-] 29.Qc7+ 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Friday, August 26, 2011

Try to Avoid English Opening 1.c4 d5!?

The move 1...d7-d5 is a universal move that can be played against any first move by White. The only real challenges are the two moves where White plays a pawn to e4 or c4 intending to capture the d5-pawn on move two. The first option is 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 called the Scandinavian Defence (also called the Center Counter Defence).

After the second option 1.c4, White can increase pressure on d5 by Nc3/g3+Bg2/Qb3/e4 etc. Black can fight for d5 with pawns by first playing 1...e6 or 1...c6 (heading for a Slav Defence after 2.d4 d5). The weakness of 1.c4 is that it does not counter other central squares available for Black's focus, such as c5, d4, e5 and e4. Black can play 1...c5, 1...e5, 1...Nf6 or 1...f5 (Dutch Defence). Sometimes I also play 1...Nc6 intending 2...e5, 2...d5 or 2...Nf6 depending on what White chooses and what Black prefers.

Some books on the English Opening hardly mention 1.c4 d5!? at all. The obvious positive plus about this line is that if Black already knows a line after 2.d4, then does not have to learn much that is unique to the English Opening after 1.c4. It is common for such books to be a summary of how top players handle the opening. Top players rarely play 1.c4 d5. Chess database game collections are heavily weighted by grandmaster and master games. Club players make it into databases much less often.

The average rating for players in my large database with millions of games is about 2300. The rating for players as Black in the opening 1.c4 d5 is in the 1900s and occurs about one out of every 300 games. In my experience as White after 1.c4 I faced 1...d5 once every 20 games; the average player who played 1.c4 d5 vs me was rated in the 1600s. Compare that to the most common move that I have faced from Black after 1.c4 which is 1...Nf6 (over 200 times) where Black was rated on average 2109.

Today's MaryDawson-Sawyer game saw me play my prepared line after 1.c4 d5 2.cxd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd6! 4.Nf3 e5. Clearly White has a lead in development, but Black is not dead. There are good chances for Black to complete his development. For the fun of it, in the notes I have added a simultaneous exhibition game were the world champion Emanuel Lasker lost to an unknown opponent in this line 100 years ago.

MaryDawson (1958) - Sawyer (2094), ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 19.03.2011 begins 1.c4 d5 2.cxd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd6 4.Nf3 e5 5.g3 a6 6.Bg2 Nf6 7.d3 Be7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Bg5 Nc6 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.Ne4 Qd8 12.Nxf6+ Qxf6 13.a3 Be6 14.Rc1 Bd5 15.b4 Rac8 16.Qd2 Rfd8 17.Rfd1 Nd4 18.Nxd4 exd4 19.Bh3 Be6 20.Bg2 Bd5 21.f3 Bb3 22.Re1 b5 23.Rc5 c6 24.Qc1 Bd5 25.h4 g6 26.Kh2 Qd6 27.e4 dxe3 28.Rxe3 Re8 29.Qe1 Kf8 30.Rxe8+ Rxe8 31.Qc3 Qe5 32.d4 Qe3 33.Qxe3 Rxe3 34.g4 Rxa3 35.Kg3 Rb3 36.h5 Rxb4 37.hxg6 hxg6 38.f4 Rc4 39.Bxd5 Rxc5 40.dxc5 cxd5 41.Kf3 a5 42.Ke3 a4 43.Kd3 a3 44.Kc2 b4 45.Kb3 Ke7 46.f5 gxf5 47.gxf5 Kd7 48.f6 Kc6 49.Kxb4 a2 50.Kb3 a1Q 51.Kc2 Qa3 52.Kd2 Kxc5 White resigns 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Slav From Opening to Endgame

There is a new chess book on the The Slav: Move by Move by Cyrus Lakdawala from Everyman Chess. The publisher's blurb reads: "In this book, Cyrus Lakdawala examines the universally popular Slav Defence which has been his main choice against 1 d4 for many years. Here he shares his experience and knowledge of his favourite opening, presents a repertoire for Black and provides answers to all the key questions."

The author points out that 9 out of 10 of the world's top players have played the Slav Defence. Only the Radjabov keeps playing the King's Indian Defence. On my high school chess team where we played other schools I had only one draw 40 years ago; that was as White in a Slav vs a higher rated player whom as I recall was named Daniel Sensenig.

The Slav Defence begins 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 usually followed by 3.Nf3 Nf6. One of the great aspects of this set-up is that it can be used vs anything White does. If is only officially the Slav it reaches a position that is likely to follow from those first two moves. Without c2-c4 it is a Caro-Kann Defence after 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5. I began playing the Caro-Kann as Black early in my career, but I did not start playing the Slav Defence as Black until 1978.

A key aspect of the Slav Defence is that Black's light squared bishop can by played from c8 to f5 or g4, followed by ...e6 and then the development of the dark squared bishop to e7, d6, or b4. A related opening is the Semi-Slav Defence where Black keeps the bishop on c8 for the moment and plays 4...e6. The Semi-Slav Defence tends to be sharper and the Slav Defence more solid, but there are both types of positions in both openings.

There are FOUR WAYS TO WIN in the Slav Defence from either side.
1. Unbalance the game through tactics and outplay your opponent with combinations and superior calculation.
2. Unbalance the game through strategy and outplay your opponent with positional judgment and pattern recognition.
3. Unbalance the game through material sacrifice to increase your piece activity or attack your opponent's king.
4. Transition the game through the middlegame into a winning endgame with piece exchanges and technical skill.

And I, Tim Sawyer, have won and lost many games from each side using each method. Here is a game where I beat "Rookie" in an ICC blitz game with the Slav. I managed to employ option four above by swapping into an ending where I had the outside passed pawn. Even a computer rated over 2500 cannot hold that position.

Rookie-Sawyer, ICC 5 0 Internet Chess Club, 01.08.2007 begins 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 c6 4.c4 Bf5 5.cxd5 cxd5 6.Qb3 Qc7 7.Bd2 e6 8.Bb5+ Nc6 9.Bb4 Bxb4+ 10.Qxb4 Qe7 11.Qxe7+ Kxe7 12.Bxc6 bxc6 13.Ne5 Rhc8 14.Nd2 Nd7 15.Nxd7 Kxd7 16.g4 Bg6 17.Nb3 f6 18.Nc5+ Kd6 19.h4 h6 20.Rc1 Be8 21.f4 a5 22.g5 hxg5 23.fxg5 fxg5 24.hxg5 Bg6 25.b3 Be4 26.Nxe4+ dxe4 27.Rh7 g6 28.Rc2 Rh8 29.Rh6 Rxh6 30.gxh6 Rh8 31.Rh2 e5 32.dxe5+ Kxe5 33.a3 Kf5 34.h7 Kf6 35.Rh4 Kg7 36.Rxe4 Rxh7 37.Re7+ Kh6 38.Rxh7+ Kxh7 39.Kf2 Kh6 40.e4 Kg5 41.Ke3 Kf6 42.Ke2 Ke5 43.a4 c5 44.Ke3 g5 45.Kf3 Kd4 46.Kg4 Kxe4 47.Kxg5 Kd3 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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Monday, August 22, 2011

Everyman English Opening Four Knights

Everyman Chess is an awesome publisher of books for the typical tournament and club player. They are written by excellent authors who have practical advice on how to play and enjoy various aspects of chess. The authors are experienced and interesting.

The past week or more of blitz games have continued my streak of playing one game a day for about 10 weeks now. After a 10-day stretch where I scored +9-1, I have dipped in the past 10 days to a score was +4=3-3. Some weeks I am Superman; others, Everyman.

Every time I fail to win a game, I push the minimum rating allowed for my opponents up 10 points. That means I raised my potential competition's rating 60 points this week. I want to force myself to face stronger competition as I get back into playing more. This week several of my opponents played faster than they have been playing, putting more pressure on me. During this stretch I was not so pig headed as to turn down draws and try to win on time from inferior endgames without a big time edge in a three minute game.

Forty years of chess play means I have seen 1.c4 hundreds of times. Because I change openings every year (not recommended) I have developed no consistent reply against the English Opening. I have tried 12 different first moves in 1400 games. Eight moves I have played at least 100 times each. I plan to post a rare English line 1.c4 d5!? soon.

Earlier posts revealed I am learning variations that that I do not know well in the English Opening by following the book 1...Nc6 by Christoph Wisnewski (now Scheerer) which published by Everyman Chess. Christoph also wrote a book on the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. This time I face the Four Knights Variation where White plays 4.d4.

The opening of today's game began 1.c4 Nc6 2.Nc3 e5 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.d4 e4!? (In the 15 other times I have been in this position as Black I continued with the normal line Wisnewski recommends: 4...exd4 5.Nxd4 Bb4. Here in a blitz game I decide to wing it with the pawn push.) 5.Ng5 Bb4 (I plugged this into Junior 12. It came up with the pawn sacrifice 5...h6! 6.Ngxe4 Nxe4 7.Nxe4 Qh4 attacking both the knight on e4 and, via x-ray, the pawn on d4. The f2-pawn is pinned so 8.f3 is not an option either.

Later I missed 6.Qc2 Nxd4! and then I missed 10...e3! leading to excellent attacking chances. After this White got an advantage; I also missed 21...Rfc8=. However White missed some things too, and in the end he offered a draw in a rook and pawn ending.

PSarmory (1886) - Sawyer (1949), ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 20.08.2011 begins 1.c4 Nc6 2.Nc3 e5 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.d4 e4 [4...exd4 5.Nxd4 Bb4 (5...Bc5!? 6.e3 0-0 7.Be2 d5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.0-0 Bxd4 10.exd4 Bf5=) 6.g3 (6.Nxc6 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 bxc6 8.Ba3 d6=) 6...Ne4 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.Qd4 Nxc3 9.bxc3 Be7 10.Bg2 0-0=] 5.Ng5 Bb4 [5...h6 6.Ngxe4 Nxe4 7.Nxe4 Qh4=] 6.Qc2 Bxc3+ [6...Nxd4] 7.bxc3 d5 8.cxd5 Qxd5 9.Nh3 Bxh3 10.gxh3 0-0 [10...e3 11.f3 Nxd4 12.cxd4 Qxd4 13.Rb1 Qh4+] 11.Rg1 Kh8 12.Be3 Na5 [12...b6] 13.h4 [13.Rg5] 13...Nc4 14.Bg5 Nd7 15.e3 f6 16.Bf4 Nd6 17.Bxd6 cxd6 18.c4 Qa5+ 19.Qd2 Qxd2+ [19...Qc7] 20.Kxd2 Nb6 21.a4 d5 [21...Rfc8] 22.a5 Nxc4+ 23.Bxc4 dxc4 24.Rgc1 Rfc8 25.Ra4 b5 26.axb6 axb6 27.Rxa8 Rxa8 28.Rxc4 Kg8 29.d5 Ra2+ 30.Kc3 Kf7 31.Rxe4 Rxf2 32.d6 Rf1 33.Kc2 Ra1 34.Re7+ Kf8 35.Rb7 Ra5 [35...Ke8] 36.Rxb6 [36.Rb8+] 36...Rd5 37.Kc3 Ke8 38.Kc4 Rd1 39.Rb7 [39.Kc5] 39...Rxd6 40.Rxg7 h5 41.Rh7 Ra6 42.Rxh5 Kf7 43.Rd5 Ra2 44.h5 Rxh2 45.Kd4 Ke6 46.e4 Rh1 47.Ke3 Clocks: 0:47-1:02 Game drawn by mutual agreement 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mating Attack Ruy Lopez Schliemann

Most of the time when I beat a computer program, it is in the endgame. Every once in a while I pull off a middlegame mating attack that goes beyond the chess engine's horizon. I might not see to the end either. However, by intuition born out of experience I can FEEL the likelihood of there being moves available to complete a successful attack.

Here is one of many games I played vs the computer program "Rookie". I have also played its older cousin "blik" quite a bit. Their Internet Chess Club (ICC) ratings were usually 2500-2900 for Rookie and 2300-2700 for blik. They used to play the same lines a lot, but over the years Rookie has gotten stronger. Whether the opening lines it played were sound or not, that did not seem to matter.

The thing that mattered was that the computer was WINNING. If it won, then every few games it would repeat that same line. There are a probably 50 lines that I got to know pretty well by playing these computers. Lots of losses gave me lots of lessons. But I did learn how to handle many of those lines, because I found improvements for my side by looking up the opening in a book or on a computer after the game.

Some of those lines were in the Spanish Opening which begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5. Most of my life it was called the Ruy Lopez. There are several gambits in this opening. Today we look at the Schliemann Gambit (or Jaenisch Gambit) which begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5. Thirty years ago Eric Schiller and GM Leonid Shamkovich wrote books about this opening. In past five years grandmasters Radjabov, Aronian, Zvjaginsev and Sokolov have played the Schliemann increasing its popularity.

Today's game begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5 4.Nc3 (The main line Schliemann. Also good is 4.d3. Less promising are 4.d4, 4.exf5 or 4.Bxc6.) 4...fxe4 (4...Nd4 was popular about 20-30 years ago) 5.Nxe4 Nf6 (The old main line continued 5...d5 6.Nxe5 dxe4 7.Nxc6 Qg5) 6.Nxf6+ (Equally as popular is 6.Qe2 d5 7.Nxf6+ gxf6 8.d4 Bg7 9.dxe5 0-0 which I have played many times.) 6...Qxf6 7.Qe2 Be7 8.Bxc6 (when Black can recapture with either pawn.) 8...bxc6 (I think I got this line from the Nigel Davies book Gambiteer II.) I mounted a mating in a few moves after 9.Ne5 c5 10.0-0 Bb7 11.Re1 0-0-0 (Getting the king out of the center before progressing with the attack that won fairly quickly. It was the only time Rookie allowed me to do this, but it was fun!)

Rookie-Sawyer, ICC 5 0 Internet Chess Club, 02.02.2008 begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5 4.Nc3 fxe4 5.Nxe4 Nf6 6.Nxf6+ [6.Qe2 d5 7.Nxf6+ gxf6 8.d4 Bg7 9.dxe5 0-0] 6...Qxf6 7.Qe2 Be7 8.Bxc6 bxc6 9.Nxe5 c5 10.0-0 Bb7 11.Re1 0-0-0 12.d3 Rhf8 13.Ng4 [13.Bd2] 13...Qg6 14.f3 Bh4 15.Rf1 Rde8 16.Ne3 d5 17.Qd1 d4 18.Ng4 h5 19.h3 hxg4 20.hxg4 Bg3 0-1

You may also like: Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Grob, Bloodgood, Bogart and Chess

All types of people play chess: young and old, male and female, rich and poor, good and bad. The most infamous opponent I have played was Claude Bloodgood. In 1996 APCT announced a thematic tournament with the Grob (1.g4). When I saw Claude Bloodgood had entered, I entered too, especially to play him via correspondence.

Bloodgood was in prison for life; and a few years ago he died. There is no condoning the crimes for which Bloodgood had been convicted. Yet, I found this 72-year-old man to be a very friendly opponent. We carried on a lively discussion from postcard to postcard.

At one point I mentioned to Tom Purser that I was playing Bloodgood. Tom inquired about the famous Humphrey Bogart game via 1.d4 Nf6 2.g4 played against an unknown opponent in New York in 1933. Bloodgood told me that it had been published. Our games ended with three draws and one Bloodgood win. We said our good-byes and I figured I'd never hear from him again. Then there comes this fascinating note about which I wrote an article that originally appeared in Purser's BDG World 77. Bloodgood wrote:

"Dear Tim,
You asked me about the Bogart Poisoned Spike Game some time ago. I mentioned that it had been published. It was originally published in the New York Daily News circa 1935, later in the New York Times.
I first became aware of it when Bogart visited the U.S. Naval Hospital at Camp Pendleton (Calif.) in late 1955. I was playing chess when he and several other Hollywood actors arrived on the ward where I was recovering from a foot surgery. He watched me play for a while and then discovered I was playing for money. He got a great big grin and asked if I'd care to play him for a small wager. The games were blitz (no scores), but he held his own (I think we broke even after 8 games) and gave me a phone number to call him when I could get out of the hospital for a day or so.
When I called, I got someone else, but arrangements were in place and a car was sent for me. I played Bogart (and some others) at beach houses in Santa Monica one time and Van Nuys several times. Bogart took real pride in his chess ability and was a born hustler. I am enclosing two Bogart games (1 against me) which I hope you will find interesting. Same opening line in Bloodgood-Lowmaster also enclosed... Best, Claude"

Bloodgood called this opening the "Maltese Falcon Attack," a cousin of the BDG:
Humphrey Bogart-Claude Bloodgood, Santa Monica 1955
1.d4 f5 2.Nf3 e6 3.e4 fxe4 4.Ng5 d5 5.f3 exf3 6.Qxf3 Nf6 7.Bd3 g6 8.Nxh7 Rxh7 9.Bxg6+ Rf7 10.0-0 Bg7 11.Bg5 Nbd7 (11...Kf8 12.Bxf7 Kxf7 13.Qh5+ Kg8 14.Bxf6 Bxf6 15.Qg6+ Bg7 16.Rf7 1-0. Claude Bloodgood - Robert Lowmaster, Camp McGill, Japan 1956) 12.Nc3 Kf8 13.Bxf7 Kxf7 14.Rae1 c5 15.Nxd5 exd5 16.Qxd5+ Kg6 (16... Kf8 17.Qd6+ Kg8 18.Re7 Ne8 19.Qe6+ Kh8 20.Rxg7 1-0. Humphrey Bogart - NN, Santa Monica 1955) 17.Bxf6 Bxf6 18.Re6 Qh8 19.Qf5+ Kf7 20.d5 Qh4 21.c3 Qg5 22.Qh7+ Qg7 23.R1xf6+ Nxf6 24.Re7+ Kxe7 25.Qxg7+ Kd6 26.Qxf6+ Kxd5 27.Qd8+ 1-0.

Claude Bloodgood was the author of The Tactical Grob. He inspired me to do a project on the Grob myself via ChessCentral. There is much more to write about Bloodgood. Someday I may do that with another of our games. Below is one of our drawn games. The Grob is a fascinating opening. Sometimes I follow Basman's more solid approach. Here I follow Bloodgood's own wild gambit approach. I suggest a few alternatives in the notes to this game.

Sawyer (1960) - Bloodgood (2100), corr APCT 96-Grob-1 (2), 19.07.1996 begins 1.g4 d5 2.Bg2 Bxg4 [2...c6 3.h3 e5] 3.c4 Nf6 [3...c6 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.Qb3 Nf6] 4.cxd5 [4.Qb3] 4...Nxd5 [4...c6 5.Qb3 cxd5] 5.Qb3 c6 6.Qxb7 Nd7 [6...Nb6] 7.Bxd5 [7.Nc3] 7...cxd5 8.Qxd5 e6 [8...g6] 9.Qd4 Bf5 10.Nc3 Qa5 11.Nf3 Rc8 12.Qa4 Qc7 13.d3 Bc5 14.0-0 0-0 15.Be3 Nb6 16.Qf4 Bd6 17.Qh4 Be7 18.Qf4 Bd6 19.Qh4 Draw 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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